Twitter Said It Would Protect Parkland Students, But This Fake Photo of Emma Gonzalez Still Went Viral
After Parkland shooting survivor and activist Emma González spoke during Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., images began to circulate online of the teenager ripping up the U.S. Constitution.
As the image bounced around among self-professed NRA supporters and alt-right figures, a college professor alerted people that the image was, in fact, a fake. Don Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, tweeted the doctored image alongside the original photo, which showed González tearing up a gun target poster.
In his Twitter thread, Moynihan pointed out that the account that originally tweeted the doctored image had been suspended, but the tweet itself had accumulated over 65,000 retweets. What’s more, the original account was likely a bot, demonstrating Twitter’s shortcomings in weeding out fake and misleading news and images.
That latter point is especially notable since just last month, Twitter announced that it would be using a variety of tools to protect the students from Parkland and use anti-spam tools to “weed out malicious automation.” In speaking out against gun violence, the shooting victims have endured online abuse and have become the subject of conspiracy theories. Yet the speedy and vast proliferation of the fake image of González indicates that the social media giant is still struggling to keep up.
Twitter did not immediately return Fortune‘s request for comment.
Gab, a popular alt-right account that tweeted the fake image on Saturday, later acknowledged that the image was “obviously a parody/satire.”
“You’re all mad because it’s believable, isn’t it? That’s the best type of satire. It’s a comedic reflection of reality,” it said.
The original image of González and the gun target poster was from a video produced by Teen Vogue, which accompanied an op-ed written by González called, “Why This Generation Needs Gun Control.” Teen Vogue’s Digital Editorial Director Phillip Picardi tweeted about the doctoring of the image on Sunday. “The fact that we even have to clarify this is proof of how democracy continues to be fractured by people who manipulate and fabricate the truth,” he said.